Title: Female Heroes Rise In Gaming

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The connection between girls and gaming has been written about quite a bit in the past year or two. Numerous mainstream articles have cited statistics that indicate gaming populations are as much or more female than male, and slowly but surely the popular image of “gamers” exclusively as young men is beginning to shift.

Along with this shift, there’s been a noteworthy emergence of more female heroes in popular video games, which is something we touched on briefly in a previous post titled Gaming Is Not Just A Boy’s World. I’m going to expand on this topic here with a look at some of the lady characters and heroes that are becoming decidedly more prominent in gaming spheres.

Before we get into it, I should acknowledge that female heroes are nothing new in the greater scheme of things. From Lara Croft and Zelda to Ms. Pac-Man and Chun-Li there are numerous examples of popular female characters that have either headlined or played major roles in big time video games. But for every ass-kicking Lara Croft, there’s a Princess Peach who needs rescuing, and it’s also fair to say that there have always been more male heroes, even if female examples have long existed. The shift in recent years is merely that the numbers appear to be evening out at least somewhat.

Perhaps the most newsworthy example of late has actually concerned the introduction of a real life woman into a popular gaming franchise, rather than the creation or elevation of a fictional character. I’m referring specifically to the placement of U.S. women’s soccer star Alex Morgan on the cover of EA Sports’ FIFA 16—a gesture that an article at ESPN W referred to as “a landmark for women.” Indeed, the article’s characterization of the cover as a “giant sign that says, ‘you are welcome here'” is a strong comment on women in mainstream sport, but also a description of the shift in gaming. Women’s teams play a significant role in the gameplay of FIFA 16, which represents the continuation of one of the biggest sports gaming franchises on the planet, and Morgan’s cover spot advertises this role.


Somewhat overshadowed by the Alex Morgan cover and the presence of women’s teams in FIFA 16 in general is the fact that similar transitions have also taken place in fiction-based gaming of late. Gamespot even devoted a countdown to the “rise of the female hero” at this year’s E3, citing numerous examples. As revealed in this article, E3 saw the reveal of a playable female hero (Evie Frye) in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate; footage for a new Lara Croft experience; and the introduction of Emily Caldwin as a playable hero in Dishonored 2, just to name a few. The Gamespot piece also noted that other games such as Fallout 4, Call Of Duty: Black Ops III and several others included female protagonists, but that they were interchangeable with the males (meaning neither male nor female versions had unique abilities or personalities).

Even in more niche corners of the gaming industry, women are gaining a stronger presence, with superhero games often leading the way. Despite the fact that we have yet to see a mainstream Marvel or DC film with a female lead (Wonder Woman is on the way), mobile and online games focus fairly heavily on the broad cast of female heroes available. Betfair’s online casino selection has long included a game with an Elektra theme, and not just as Daredevil’s sidekick (as she is too often portrayed). Rather, the Elektra selection is available as a solo game, in line with a number of other Marvel hero options. Following suit and perhaps in connection to the recent casting of an Elektra character for the Netflix Daredevil series, the Kabam app Marvel: Contest Of Champions recently added an Elektra character to a cast that already includes the likes of Ms. Marvel, Gamora, and Black Widow.

That pretty much covers all branches of the gaming industry. And in each one of them, female characters are not only more common, but presently newsworthy. Options from Alex Morgan and women’s soccer teams, to Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s Evie Frye, to Marvel’s Elektra have all surfaced recently as a strong reflection of the narrative that gaming is not divided by gender.

Here’s to more of the same in the years to come.